Will Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw Switch Places in Giants Backfield?
The question is whether their relative places in the Giants' share the load backfield will change after an underwhelming 2009 season in which New York gained 681 fewer yards than its team-record/league-leading total of 2008.
After Tiki Barber led the Giants in rushing in all 80 games from 2002-06, Jacobs took over as the starter in 2007. However backups Derrick Ward and Reuben Droughns combined for more carries during the season and after Ward went down in December, then-rookie Bradshaw stepped up and became New York's top runner during its surprising postseason push to the Lombardi Trophy. Jacobs was the man again in 2008 with Bradshaw replacing Droughns in the rotation. Last year, it was all Jacobs and Bradshaw. Each fought through injuries to play in all but one game, but Bradshaw averaged 4.8 yards a carry to Jacobs' 3.7.
The 24-year-old Bradshaw has generally received the first carry in camp drills, but the 28-year-old Jacobs said he's not going anywhere."I didn't have a good year last year," Jacobs said. "I wasn't explosive, I was hurt and I couldn't plant my right foot in the ground and push off. I didn't have any strength in it at all. I feel better this year than I have felt since my third year in the league. I've done a couple things this offseason to prepare myself for the season, and doing certain core work and hip flexibilities. I'm getting older, and I want to keep my body durable and flexible to do this grind."
So does Bradshaw, at 5-foot-9 and 198 pounds, five inches and 66 pounds smaller than the burly Jacobs. Bradshaw had operations on both of his feet and his right ankle during the offseason to help restore his quickness. He has made a point of participating in every practice in camp although several other players coming off surgeries go just once a day.
"When you sit out of practice [or] when you sit out for a day or two, it hurts to come back and get your feet back under you," Bradshaw explained. "I feel that practicing twice a day will keep my feet back under me."
Jacobs said that he and Bradshaw talk every night in their room about re-establishing the Giants' ground game as a force.
"We want to be up in the top two or three of the league, where we have always been," Jacobs said.
But will he be the second banana for the first time since he backed up Barber in 2005-06?